Campus Improvements

Campus Improvements

We are excited to share with you the completed construction projects on campus!

Vanderslice First Floor

Thanks to new gifts from our extraordinary friends from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Harry Wilson Loose Trust N.A., Bank of America, and KCAI’s own Vanderslice Auxiliary, we are embarking on a three-part restoration this summer to the first-floor Admissions suite, grand entry hall, and the porte cochère. Construction will be complete in the fall. 

A magnificent lead gift from William T. Kemper Foundation will bring back ‘the fernery’, the former screened-in porch and greenhouse that will become a feature space for the Admissions team. The smart design by local firm Helix includes new clerestory windows and a new roof. This project also includes renovating the Admissions suites, restoring two fireplaces that disappeared over the years, and a rebuild of the dire first-floor restroom.

Visitors to Vanderslice will receive a warm welcome in the revitalized grand entry hall showcasing a new lobby with a functioning gas fireplace, new furniture, and feature panels that tell the history and timeline of Vanderslice, thanks to a generous gift from the Harry Wilson Loose Trust. The Vanderslice Auxiliary is sponsoring the porte cochère facelift which includes repairs to the crumbling stone steps and new tuckpointing to bring it back to its original glory.

The project has been carefully designed by Helix Architecture + Design, the terrific team responsible for the award-winning Barbara Marshall Residence Hall. They’re meticulously restoring the 19th-century elements while adding modern elements to make the space more functional for our 21st-century needs. Kansas City-based A.L. Huber is the general contractor.



Paul and Linda DeBruce Hall

Named for two of Kansas City’s visionary philanthropists, Paul and Linda DeBruce, this building will house Art History, Creative Writing, Entrepreneurial Studies, Liberal Arts and the Ronald Cattelino Center for Student Services.

The Hall is designed by Hufft, a Kansas City-based architecture firm known for creating meaningful spaces inspired by people and how they move within a space. Award-winning landscape architects Hoerr Schaudt will design the expansive outdoor spaces and Kansas City construction company McCownGordon will build the facility. Designed to be a “classroom in a garden”, Paul and Linda DeBruce Hall will impact every student at the college and will elevate the profile of KCAI’s academic programs in a state-of-the-art facility.

A unique architectural feature of the Hall will be the entry portal on Oak Street. Visitors will enter through a portal adorned with panels, each engraved with the name of influential art historians of the past and present. The entrance will become a tribute to the individuals who have interpreted and written about art and artists for future generations. “Many museums and art centers celebrate artists by having their names of the facade – but no one has honored art historians – the scholars who interpret, explain and tell us the stories of those artists. I think they deserve thanks and recognition” said Nerman Family President Tony Jones CBE.



Tony Jones Studios for Animation and Illustration

Located in the former living center towers, Tony Jones Studios provide a new home for two of our fastest growing departments, Animation and Illustration. With input from faculty and the expertise of Kansas City Architects Gould Evans, the 30,000 square foot towers were designed to provide optimal classroom, studio space and common areas for each department’s unique needs. Animation, in the north tower, has multi-media presentation walls and high-tech lighting controls to darken the spaces for student presentations. Illustration utilizes natural light and has large gallery walls to display student work.  Both departments provide students with individual studios to explore, experiment and create.

KCAI Gallery

The KCAI Gallery, formerly the Crossroads Gallery, has a new home in a prime location on the lower level of Tony Jones Studios. The new gallery features flexible space that will shift from classroom to studio to gallery to black-box theater, plus a movable wall system to accommodate a variety of exhibitions. It offers the public a new destination nestled between the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and H&R Block Artspace.  Being on campus gives students opportunities for experiential learning and cross-disciplinary engagements as well as the ability to interact with working artists. The gallery will continue to collaborate with the Center for Contemporary Practice (CCP), the college’s program that works with all departments and explores new community partnerships.